The Midnight Club

If you are not familiar with the now defunct "Midnight Club Race" that was held in Japan, then you likely do not know too much about street racing. While it was illegal, it is extremely well known around the world. You would find the Midnight Club taking to streets of Tokyo along a 70-kilometer stretch of road, the Bayshore Route, that took drivers screaming along the shore that dots Tokyo Bay.

While there may not have been throngs of crowds lining the road to watch, you can guarantee that there were plenty of people waiting at the finish line to congratulate successful drivers on a night of work well done.

Official Break Up

The Midnight Club officially broke up in 1999, following a horrific crash that ended with six innocent motorists in hospital. Two of the Midnight Club members also suffered the same fate. The cause of the accident was due to a rival gang of bikers who decided to intervene during a race, blocking the route and forcing some of the drivers onto a busy highway. Two of the bikers lost their lives.

Due to the expert level of driving skills need to become a member and the performance of the cars, the police found it very hard to catch the drivers. Unfortunately for the police in Japan their vehicles were fitted with a limiter which restricted the cars to 110 mph. So in most cases they would simply let the race run its course.

Worldwide Recognition

Also known as the Mid Night Racing Team it first came to light outside of Japan when Jeremy Clarkson ran a feature on his Motorworld show in January 1995. After which the interest shown in the race, it gained a worldwide audience.

Members of the team proudly displayed the trademark “Mid Night Car Special” triangular sticker on the bumpers and visors of their cars.  Any nonmembers and rival gangs showing fake stickers to pose could find themselves in a spot of trouble. On numerous occasions cars bearing the member sticker falsely were destroyed.

Like most street racing around the world, you will be able to hear these high-powered street-modified race cars long before you actually see them. At the same time, these drivers want to be noticed. That is why LED vehicle lighting was so important to their cars. You could see them illuminated as they went screaming by.

Vehicle lights at night streaking

Safety a Strict Code

This was a safety feature that could alert other drivers to their presence, but it was also a point of pride that they have made it into the Midnight Club in the first place. You may think that the racers that participated in this illegal activity shun all sense of protocol, but that just is not true.

There was a strict code of ethics that must be followed if one is going to gain admittance and remain in the Midnight Club. In fact it was thought that only one in ten applicants would eventually become full members. An initiation included attending meetings and races for a whole year without participating before being accepted.

Limited Membership

During anyone time there were only around 30 members of the club. Meeting in secret or placing coded adverts in local newspapers to indicate the place to meet for the next race. Although very secretive about the identity of members, it is known that some high profile people were amongst those who took part. Not surprising when you think that they spent up to and beyond 2 million dollars to upgrade the performance of their cars.

Car racing at night

The club itself was established in 1987. It was not easy at all to gain admission into its ranks. To begin, you must have owned a vehicle that could get up to speeds over 160 mph. If you wanted to be competitive, you would need to be able to demonstrate that you can easily get up to 200mph. This was difficult to do since at the time Japan limited all cars to a maximum of 112mph.

Keeping the Dream Alive

At the same time, drivers had to agree to operate by a strict code of morals that prevented them from putting any other driver at risk. This also included spectators standing by to watch the race. Indeed pedestrians were regarded as more important than the driver themselves. One safety feature that was adhered to was proper LED Headlights and Spotlights. Drivers went to great lengths to illuminate their cars and keep everyone safe at the same time.

Since its demise it has still kept its cult following and its influences can still be seen to this day. With comics, anime and even film retelling the story.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published